Run It – How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill

Run It - tips and tricks for runners by runners. This month, 6 articles on staying sane on the treadmill!

Welcome to another installment of your new favorite series for runners, Run It! Full of tips and advice from coaches and runners including Laura, Sarah, Nellie, Angela, Allie and me, every month you get not one but 6 great workouts or articles on a topic. 

(Last year we brought you 12 months of fantastic workouts for runners – you can access all those workout posts here!)

Today we are addressing something nearly every runner has struggled with from time to time…how to stay sane on the treadmill. Seriously, it’s like you’ve been running for 45 minutes and then you sneak a look at the display which is obviously malfunctioning because it says you’ve only been running for 3 minutes and 23 seconds. WHAT DARK MAGIC IS THIS? 

But whether you just tolerate it, openly loathe it, or actually quite enjoy running on the treadmill, there are always going to be times you need to use it and you want to stave off boredom and/or the aforementioned break in the time-space continuum. Take a deep breath, repeat the affirmation “The Run It ladies have me covered,” and read on.

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners

There are a few ways your sanity can be challenged by needing to get your workout done on the treadmill instead of your favorite outdoor running route. These can be broken down into obsessing over the time; fear of missing out (FOMO); and making it a pity party. And trust me, I’ve fallen into each of these categories before. Here are my tips for staying sane on the treadmill through all of these challenges.


You think I’m going to tell you to throw a towel over the display so you can’t see the time or mileage, don’t you? Nope, that doesn’t work. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve tried this, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time at the beginning of my run trying to arrange the towel so that I can’t see the display through the fabric and so that it doesn’t shift around and threaten to throw in my face the reality of my situation every 10 seconds. Also, I invariably forget a back up towel and do a weird, awkward mid-running attempt to mop my face without actually shifting the towel from its place.

What does work? Using the display to your advantage. There are a ton of treadmill workouts available to you (like these ones we helpfully shared with you earlier this year) and what you’ll notice about the majority of treadmill routines is that the time is broken up into small sections. You will constantly be keeping an eye on the time, ready to change your speed, or incline, or both. It works. You’re so focused on your next change, you forget to obsess over how much longer your run seems indoors.


I am very affected by my environment when I’m running. When I was training for the Vermont City Marathon, I planned out my long runs along Lake Champlain so I could soak in the gorgeous views as I ran. My long runs for NYC Marathon training often took me over the Brooklyn Bridge, or along the West Side of Manhattan because why not run where you love? 

But here you are…on a treadmill. Either in a gym, or some corner of your home. Thinking about the views you’re missing, the trail you hadn’t noticed before but could totally go explore if you want, the other runners to greet, the wildlife you might encounter. Now – let that go and think about what you CAN’T do when you run outside. You can’t binge watch Netflix outdoors, can you? Line up the shows you’re dying to watch and have at it. Or if you have to do your long run indoors, throw on your most favorite movie that’s the same length…it will make it so much easier to keep going when you’re distracted by you favorite scene coming up. Find some podcasts you’ve been meaning to catch up on, make a playlist that keeps you motivated. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll miss your Netflix time when you’re running outside next! (Yes, I’m reaching.)


I know, it sucks. But throwing a pity party just makes it seem worse than it is. Even those of us who don’t like the treadmill can appreciate what it offers that running outdoors just doesn’t. You’re in a temperature controlled environment – there’s no rain, cold or humidity to deal with. Bonus points if you’re at home, because then you’re the one in control of your environment. You also don’t need to dress for the weather – it’s icy and freezing out? Who cares, wear shorts and a tank!

You can stop at any time if you need to and not be far from home. That means no searching for somewhere you can pee, or no panic at realizing you’re 5 miles from home if your babysitter texts to say your kid is sick. If your (insert vaguely nagging injury-prone site here) starts acting up, you can stop to massage it and stretch or roll and make a decision whether to go on or not without taking into account how many miles away from home you are.

You also have everything you could possibly want right at your fingertips. You don’t need the running belt or hydra-pack. There are handy little spots on your treadmill to hold your water and your towel and a chapstick and your phone and your fuel. Enjoy the convenience the treadmill offers you. It’s all about being grateful for the little things you may have forgotten treadmill running offers.

Maybe you’ll never be filled with joy at the idea of your next treadmill run, but you definitely have the ability to make it through with your sanity with these tips. But don’t just take my word for it – here are more tips (and maybe a couple of extra workouts) from my Run It friends!

Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners

Laura from This Runner’s Recipes

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners

Sarah from Run Far Girl

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners

Angela from Happy Fit Mama

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners

Allie from Vita Train for Life

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill - Run It series of coaches tips and workouts for runners



  1. I get the FOMO every so often when I’m chained to the treadmill. But it happens and there’s always another day to get out and see the pretty all around my town. Hopefully I did not poke my eyes out while on the treadmill!
    angela @ happy fit mama recently posted…How to Stay Sane on the TreadmillMy Profile

  2. Great tips! I definitely get FOMO for the outdoors when on the treadmill! The treadmills at my gym have simulation trail runs so I like to do the ones through California and pretend I’m running in the sunshine.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Staying Sane on the Treadmill {Run It Round Up}My Profile


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